The Middle East is in complete chaos. Some blame Israel for part or all of the anarchy, and Jewish students are often targets of vitriolic remarks on campus.

To counter such hostility, Stephen Kuperberg (publisher of Israel Campus Beat) established a network throughout North American institutions of higher learning to act as an Israel-outreach program. He describes his experiences in the Times of Israel, by starting with a comment from a Christian:

“How do we increase the love for Israel on campus?”

It was the right question, at the right time. Campuses resume just as the Jewish High Holy Days offer time for introspection and reflection for many of us in the campus Israel network. At this time of year it is appropriate both to examine ourselves deeply and to expand our horizons to consider what can and ought to be. And the question of increasing the love for Israel on campus raises a host of issues for all of us to consider.

Kuperberg notes that he is not as comfortable with the language of “loving Israel” as some Christians are, and suspects that other campus Jews share his discomfort. However, he also senses that engaging support for Israel with the head alone is not enough:

We also need to engage their hearts. We need to increase the love…

Can we measure “love?” It is an important question because in an age of metrics-based advocacy, many sophisticated stakeholders demand measurable outcomes. Actually, yes: one can measure “love,” at least after a fashion; in fact, it is high time that we did. Market researchers measure brand affinity all the time; that is, the degree to which consumers identify with and express an attachment or preference for one brand or another. Such metrics allow product managers to measure customer interest and loyalty. In the campus sphere and elsewhere, such questions regarding Israel become increasingly more important than the traditional forced-choice questions of political support for Israel, because whether an individual supports Israel in its political conflicts tells us very little about whether that person has any lasting interest or attachment to Israel and Israelis. By broadening our focus from the typical political measurements to a broader measurement of affinity, not only will we learn more about the degree of “love” for Israel in the campus environment—we should also gain insights about how best to begin to increase that love.